Building Dreys for Ringtail Possums to Celebrate International Women’s Day 2024

CVA was thrilled to celebrate International Women’s Day this month in a truly unique and memorable way, by co-hosting a ringtail possum nest-building workshop with WIRES.

The event, which took place at Hawthorne Reserve in Ramsgate (Sydney) on the 6th of March 2024, was an opportunity for WIRES and CVA volunteers to learn more about these Australian marsupials, as well as actively help protect them.

There’s always a lot of interest from people to learn more about ringtail possums, their conservation status, and how to get involved in helping protect them. Below are some interesting facts about ringtail possums, their nests (which are called dreys), and why they need protection.

What are Ringtail Possums?

Australia is home to 27 species of possums and gliders, which comprise Australia’s unique biodiversity.

The ringtail possum is a small marsupial that can be found in eastern Australia and Tasmania. Known for its tail that can wrap around branches, this possum lives in woodlands, urban gardens, rainforests, and eucalyptus forests.

They are nocturnal creatures that spend most of their time living in trees. As herbivores, their diets consist mainly of leaves, flowers, and fruit.

What makes the ringtail possum quite unique is that they are one of a few marsupials that build dreys, which are communal nests that they use to sleep in. These dreys, which are typically made from tree branches, are also used as places where they can rear their young, and help their offspring to survive as they mature.

Ringtail possum sticking its head out of a wooden box.

Why should we protect ringtail possums in our local areas?

Ringtail possums face a number of threats including deforestation which destroys their natural habitat, being hit by cars on roads, and being preyed on by domestic and feral cats, foxes, and birds like owls.

These are two of the most important reasons why we need to protect ringtail possums:

  1. Possums help maintain ecosystem health and balance

Possums help to disperse seeds, which regenerate indigenous plants. Their plant-based diets also help maintain a healthy balance of plant species. These uniquely Australian animals are iconic emblems of what makes Australia’s wildlife so distinctive and special.

 2. Possums are an important indicator species

Ringtail possums are also an indicator species, which means that scientists can monitor their populations to find out what’s happening to the health of the entire ecosystem in which they live.

Declining populations could signal that something is wrong and needs addressing – whether caused by pollution, invasive species, climate change, or fragmentation of habitat.

This can enable conservationists to research and take action to address the issues before more species are affected.

Protecting ringtail possum populations through building nests

One of the ways in which everyone can get involved in protecting this unique species is by helping to build and install ringtail possum nests, called dreys.

These dreys help the possums to have a safe refuge and place to rear their young, which is particularly important in areas that have been developed or where habitat loss has taken place.

Getting involved in community conservation initiatives geared towards building dreys for possums can help possums survive in habitats that are often disturbed or destroyed.

Building dreys doesn’t just benefit possums. It also offers humans a unique opportunity to connect with nature and contribute to wildlife conservation. Taking part in hands-on community conservation initiatives fosters a sense of community and belonging, and provides an opportunity to meet new people and build connections with places and nature.

Community conservation activities also raise awareness about the importance of protecting our unique and precious Australian biodiversity, and getting out in nature and feeling a connection with the environment around us can improve health and wellness.

What are possum dreys made of?

Ringtail possums are unique among marsupials in their nest-building habits. Their nests, or dreys, are made from a variety of locally sourced plants including tree branches, twigs, pieces of tree bark, and filled with softer materials like leaves and grass.

Most dreys take an oval shape and are large enough for several adult possums and their young to sleep in during the day. They’re usually around 30 to 35 centimetres in diameter and located in the sturdy forks of trees, away from the reaches of predators.

Building dreys takes a great deal of effort for possums, and that’s where people can get involved in helping to support possum conservation by building dreys for them.

Take part in CVA conservation events

CVA empowers people across Australia to care for and protect our rich natural environment. This helps preserve unique Australian species like the ringtail possum but also ensures the health of our ecosystems for future generations.

👉 Download the CVA app to find out more about upcoming conservation volunteering events in your area, or take a look at the CVA website to see a list of upcoming events.